It is time to be honest with ourselves. We are facing a myriad of global warming and ecological crisis rapidly escalating beyond catastrophe levels toward extinction levels. The collapse of multiple climate, biological and human systems is inevitable. But what is next for you and I?
In this Job One for Humanity monthly newsletter, you will find a reply to the philanthropist Jeremy Grantham’s courageous new essay on the unfolding multifaceted environmental catastrophe which is rapidly approaching called, The Race of Our Lives, Revisited. Jeremy Grantham is the founder of the Grantham Foundation and a co-founder and chief investment strategist of GMO, a Boston-based asset management firm having more than $118 billion in assets under management. Mr. Grantham is particularly noted for his prediction of various financial bubbles.
Even if you not have read his essay on how we are losing the global warming and environmental protection races, you will get enough of a summary of it from what is written below (or by watching his short summary video,) to understand it as well as its importance concerning what to do next in the face of his honest but disheartening environmental news update and summary.
This reply to his essay was also significantly co-written by a partner and global warming education team member, Michael Mielke...
In The Race of Our Lives, Revisited, essay, an enlightened environmental philanthropist has finally and clearly explained that the interconnected crises of climate breakdown, ecological overshoot, and pervasive pollutions are not problems that can be solved or even difficulties that can be sufficiently addressed. Instead, Jeremy Grantham details how taking, making and wasting – our relentless extraction, production, then pollution processes – now yield consequence predicaments we can only endure.
The difference between problems and predicaments is stark. Problems have solutions. Predicaments can only be managed and endured.
The situation that remains once too many humans take too much from our Earth leaving too many poisons in our wake is a predicament, and Grantham’s Race of Our Lives Revisited describes with amazingly detailed and solid documentation the unavoidable predicaments and consequences. Most importantly it also describes the necessary responses for our collective survival:
- Destroy the Earth or rapidly and completely decarbonize economies. (Page 2).
- Gradual fossil fuel reductions mean coastal cities will be flooded and uninhabitable; ice caps will melt. (Page 3).
- We are losing 1% of our global soil a year. There are 30 to 70 good harvest years remaining. (Page 3).
- We have created a toxic environment not conducive to life, and toxins saturate our daily life. (Page 3).
- There is simply no other way to manage these crises except for extensive and overarching governmental regulation and leadership in establishing restrictions and limiting poisons. (Page 4 of his essay and in Part 3 of the Job one Plan for the last five years).
- Even with the over-optimistic assumptions and accelerating green technologies, i.e., decarbonized energy, the projected use of fossil fuels will still be 50% of energy consumption in 2050, which is a near certain extinction level. (Summarized on page 13).
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the intractable nature of the honestly illuminated crises of our present situation, particularly when almost all of these crises are getting inexorably and exponentially worse. On page 28, however, Grantham explodes the bombshell:
“The greatest deficiency of capitalism is its complete inability to deal with any of these things.” A few pages later he concludes, “God help us. For we appear incapable or at least unwilling, to help ourselves, and our great scientific skills increasingly appear insufficient.”
Should we be Resigned to Comprehensive Catastrophic Collapse and Is that Our Only Option?
At first glance, it does seem that Jeremy Grantham has argued that our modern wonder-world will end with “Hell and High Water,” while the water itself will be laced with toxic poison. He does not show any way out, nor does he provide a feel-good, unrealistic ending as do so many others. In other words, he tells it honestly and like it is. Not like too many green groups and most large environmental organizations have been afraid to do.
In the case of most of the largest environmental groups, decades of advocacy have been defined by the rule of: “Don’t scare the public!” They believe that if they do, then the public will freeze or give up. They have certainly believed that explaining the full truth of the dire straits we are in would interfere with getting money, membership, and related support.
For too long, the Reality of our existential situation attended by proliferating and interconnected crises has been covered with fig-leaves or denied outright. The Truth of the matter has been tailored to continuing the economic system, the social system, and bowing to what has been called “political realities.” Yet, in order to deliver comprehensive catastrophe, all we have to do is to continue to act in ways that are “good, moral, and certainly acceptable.”
In this case, human self-immolation means simply continuing to turn the Earth into a waste stream behind our increasing and relentlessly increasing belief in unrestrained infinite growth and economic activity, while we eliminate the rest of Earth’s mammals, except we hope, ourselves and our domesticated food animals.
It appears from our lack of progress in reversing or even slowing down the rate of carbon from fossil fuel use going into our atmosphere, we have no collective moral restraints that would stop complete self-destruction!
Despite a laundry list of crises, all requiring management, and not finally fixable (or even solvable), Grantham plainly states that salvaging some parts of a fractured future will require collective action, extensive governmental regulation, and governmental leadership.
This also means that individual actions and exhortations toward more sustainable individual choices or individual behavioral changes will be futile! As they have been for the last few decades. (Yes, we agree completely with Jeremy on this and clearly tell you that in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Job One Plan, which deals with only how to prepare for and adapt to the horrible consequences that are coming, not how to reverse or slow them as is laid out in Part 3 and Part 4 of the Job One Plan.)
So, is there any good news? Or, do we just party until the Titanic goes down?
To Be, or Not to Be or, To Do or Die
Perhaps there is a plausible way out of the cul-de-sac that is presented by the crises, stated and otherwise. This crises argues for collective action, extensive government regulation and governing leadership. In the USA, the unstated belief is that there is no possible way for the government to do what is necessary. Nonetheless, the major philanthropies, like the Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation have five-year plans that are working to build political leadership and elected officials that can begin someday to start to propose the suite of policies required to somehow salvage some part of our future and perhaps shards of civilization.
This is too little and too late. (For all the reasons why it is absolutely too little or too late read the 13 factors listed on this page.)
It is widely known that one political party in the US is moving as fast as possible to drive us off the climate cliff of oblivion, and the other party is not proposing emergency brakes to stop forward momentum. Furthermore, the idea leading philanthropies suggest is to support “green” and responsible politicians. But, (almost) no Congressional candidates are proposing actions at an effective scale or, reflecting the urgency and the real breadth of the interconnected crises and, worse yet they are not looking to legitimately transform any of the true underline conditions exacerbating the crises, and so the prescription does not change.
As things are progressing now there seems to be no escape from the comprehensive catastrophe that is fast approaching. Something drastically different is needed. Consider Backcasting. Backcasting is reverse-forecasting. So, can we start with a specific desirable future outcome and then work backward to the present conditions.
The desired future outcome here is the entire country working together cooperatively and with focused effort to eliminates fossil fuels use at a speed that will prevent humanity from suffering the worst possible consequences leading to extinction. The economy and productive capacity of our nation would be focused on eliminating fossil fuels to handle accelerating global warming, stopping toxic release while cleaning up pollution, slashing extraction and functioning within frameworks of fairness and social justice in order to involve everyone, like we have in our past, providing benefits and incentives for population reduction, and much more.
The recent analogy for something close to this comprehensive effort was World War 2. In the peak of that war, in 1943, the necessity of the emergency meant that military outlays were about half of the entire economic outputs for contending nations: the USA 42%; the UK 55%; Germany 70%; and Japan 43%. So, how could this level of concentrated and cooperative effort be catalyzed now?
To begin with, who could rouse, educate, alarm, warn, and advise the people of this nation and world?
Organizations like Job One for Humanity and the Association for the Tree of Life as well as the philanthropists, politicians, businesses, green groups, climate activists, and any others that these two groups have influenced are the first to come to mind. We are now left with those honestly educated leading players as the key current actors armed with a deeper truths about the real depth of our current crisis that could possibly have either the credibility or, who care deeply about impending human catastrophe or, who could muster the resources or, who could supply the advocacy that would galvanize enough people who could come to grips with this multifaceted ecological crises.
But what must we do next to truly save ourselves?
To get to effective action requiring a cohesive and comprehensive political response, Americans (and people all over the world,) must give themselves over to the collective political system, similar to the ways many nations did in World War 2. In order to do that, we must first understand first that we have no choice because effective action at this late date can only be achieved by collective governmental action.
To get to a comprehensive and cooperative effort, nothing less will suffice. That effort must be catalyzed by us you and those listed previously, entities who care and who have the resources to make it happen. Those resources are at no one else’s disposal.
By this time you should be beginning to understand the scope, scale, and urgency of the interconnected crises that have beset all of us.
Unfortunately, Americans and most other people of the world do not grasp, much less recognize and accept that continuing as usual with our economic, political and social operating systems means comprehensive catastrophe. Similarly, most of the world is not conscious of how rapidly the transformations of our operating systems must take place if we are to create a viable future (since we do not have a viable future now). (See Part 3 of the Job one Plan to learn about how much has to change and how fast it has to happen.)
Large-scale and urgent government action is critical, and it is necessary for Americans and all nations to have that explained, and have it explained as both unavoidable and immediately required. (Click here to see specifically what those government driven actions will look like for the escalating global warming emergency.)
The information, the news, the data related to the multifaceted threats to our survival are all more significant and widespread than at any time in our human history. Yet the people of every nation must “get the picture,” then “make sense of it.” We must communicate relentlessly the reality of what all of us face in ways that cannot be avoided and that motivate to act. If we rouse, alarm, warn, educate and advise the people of this nation and the world, the nation and world can be moved.
Looking back from a historical perspective, sometimes it seems that the future of a culture rests on the shoulders of a significant individual, or just a few. In America, we often believe that may have been true in the case of George Washington. Perhaps for Abraham Lincoln as well. But now, our future is in your hands and those who can see the crisis and respond to it.
We can ask, and we can hope that you will help us and answer the call. We need your help to rouse, alarm, warn, educate, and advise the people of this nation and the world. (The effective action steps on our website including the 4 part Job One for Humanity Plan that will also help you rouse, warn and educate others about both the predicament we are in (with its chain of now on avoidable consequences as well as the honest and practical solutions that can still be executed.)
Please volunteer, tell your friends and don't forget to donate! Yes, you too like Jeremy Grantham can call yourself a philanthropist because every leading-edge donor to this difficult and unpopular reality and cause is in truth, also a philanthropist.
Last month more of you responded to our newsletter with more donations than we have had for months. Thank you!
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Yours for humanity, our children, and the earth,
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